COLLEGE STATION -- The Texas A&M equestrian team presented its individual awards at its annual end-of-the-year banquet on Friday evening at The Zone Club at Kyle Field.
Instead of naming hunter seat and western MVP¹s as done in year¹s past, MVP¹s were doled out based on the top performers in each of the four varsity riding categories
Sophomore Tonna Brooks (Newberg, Ore.) earned horsemanship MVP rider honors after having arguably the greatest western season of any rider in the country. Brooks made it all the way to the national championship show with out a loss (21-0), earning MVP honors in both horsemanship and reining against Fresno State and New Mexico State during the year.
Freshman Maggie Gratny (Leavenworth, Kan.) was named reining MVP after posting a 12-3 record this season. Gratny won each of her first nine competitions and was the rider that clinched the Varsity Equestrian National Championship (VENC) western title for the Aggies two weeks ago in Waco. She was also named reining MVP at five different shows during the season.
Junior Katie Henion (Austin) was named equitation over fences MVP after posting a 12-5 seasonal record. Henion earned more individual victories than any hunt seat rider this season and was awarded fences MVP honors in four shows.
Junior Ashlie Soderstrom (Lake Oswego, Ore.) was given the equitation on the flat MVP award after putting up an 11-5-1 mark over the course of the season. Soderstrom, like Gratny, earned an impressive five MVP rider honors during the season, including both days at the inaugural Big 12 Classic.
Most Improved Awards were given to sophomores Christina Matz (McKinney) and Amanda Ryan (Ramona, Calif.). Matz began the year by winning her first eight competitions, eventually finishing with a 10-5 record overall. Matz competed in the intermediate and novice division as a freshman in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association a year ago. Ryan evolved from one of the youngest VENC riders on the team a year ago to one of the most experienced this season. Her 3-0 mark at the VENC show helped push the Aggies to the national championship.
The Best Under Pressure Awards went to sophomore Sibyl Parsons (Combine) and freshman Lindsay Smith (West Friendship, Md.). Parsons put together a 10-4-1 record in horsemanship, including wins over Baylor and South Carolina at the VENC show. Parsons win against South Carolina in the championship match helped dig the Aggies out of a 2-0 hole and get them started on a 6-0 run to claim the national title. Smith came through with the fate of the hunter seat riders on the line in their match against Fresno State at the VENC show. Smith won the deciding match, 158.5-132, to lift A&M to a 4-3 win over FSU.
The Miss Aggie Awards were given to sophomore co-captain Courtney Brooks (Alamo, Calif.) and sophomore Renee¹ Dirkse (Rockwall). The Little Miss Aggie Awards were bestowed upon freshman Brittney Dodson (Amarillo) and junior transfer Genna Fishgold (Scottsdale, Ariz.).
At the conclusion of the banquet, next year¹s captains were announced. Katie Henion and Lindsay Smith were elected hunter seat captains and Renee¹ Dirkse and Sibyl Parsons western team captains by their teammates for the 2007-08 athletic year.